Can Romney Beat Obama?

This is a question that analysts and commentators have grappled over since the Republican race began. Does Mitt Romney really have a chance against the well-oiled machine that is the Obama re-election campaign? Looking at the numbers, it looks like quite the stretch. Now don’t get me wrong folks; I’d root for almost anyone against Obama. As you all know by now, I’m a big Romney supporter, and have been since the beginning of this campaign. The biggest reason for my support? Because I believe he has the best chance to take down the President in November. However, having the “best” chance doesn’t automatically mean a “good” chance.

Looking at the electoral map from 2008, Romney’s path to victory appears to be difficult, at best. First, in order to win, Romney would have to carry every state that McCain won 4 years ago. That would include Missouri, which McCain won by roughly 3,700 votes. For Romney, I think Missouri is pretty safe, considering that it’s voters have historically been more conservative. After that, the road to 270 delegates becomes muddled for the Romney camp. If the electoral map didn’t change from 2008, Obama would win 358 electoral votes and Romney would take 180. To beat the President, Romney would have to start by taking Virginia and North Carolina. Both states voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004, and Virginia in particular is considered one of the most Republican states on the East coast. I believe that both of these states have a good chance of voting for Romney in November.

Indiana is a state that I think is already a given for Romney. In all of the polls, Romney leads Obama by a pretty good margin, and with the wildly successful governorship of Mitch Daniels, it’s hard to see the people of Indiana voting for a Democrat. If these three states voted for Romney, Obama’s electoral count would shrink to 319, and Romney’s would rise to 219.

Next on the list are the Ohio and Florida. If Romney loses even one of these states, he will not win the 2012 Presidential election. It is impossible for him to win without their combined 47 electoral votes. I feel confident that Romney can get Florida to vote Republican. I feel less confident about Ohio. But, for the sake of this analysis, let’s say they both vote for Romney. That would pretty much tie the race, with Obama getting 272 electoral votes and Romney getting 266. And here is where the miracles need to start happening. It’s possible that Nevada could change allegiance, but considering the Republican upheaval that has occurred there in the last couple of years, that doesn’t seem likely. It seems that Romney’s best bet would be campaign hard in states like Iowa, Michigan (his home state), and Pennsylvania. If Romney were able to win just two of these states, he could clinch the nomination. Winning Pennsylvania would be a huge undertaking though, as would the Democratic stronghold of Michigan. Even though Romney is a Michigan native, I don’t think he has much of a chance there. Pennsylvania would also be difficult to turn, but not as hard as Michigan. The Keystone State has been hit hard by the economy, and with a strong “pro-jobs” message, Romney could get Pennsylvania’s support.

As you can see though, this is all conjecture. For Romney to win, he has to win all of the states McCain won, as well as taking North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, and either Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Iowa. That’s a tall order. He has to convince millions of voters to switch sides, all while making sure that everyone who voted Republican in 2008 does the same in 2012.

Whether or not Romney can beat Obama, it’s undeniable that he has the best chance. Rick Santorum would have a very hard time convincing voters in Michigan to accept his form of conservatism, and even voters in Pennsylvania (where he was elected Senator) have had a hard time supporting him in recent polls. I doubt that Ohio (or even Florida for that matter) would warm to him either. Romney’s moderate views on many issues make him the most electable candidate the GOP has to offer. Electability: that’s the most important issue for Republican delegates at this point. That’s why Romney will be the Republican nominee, and that’s why he will be the one taking on Obama in November.

I’m not going to sit here and say that winning will be easy. In fact, I’m not even sure it’s possible. But, I know that I’m not giving up hope until the final vote has been counted. Hopefully, the American people will vote for Mitt Romney as the next President of the United States.